Google seems to be on its way to doing what should have been done a long time ago in my opinion - unifying its products into one Google brand.
Some Google users started noticing last night that when they went to "Photos" from the Google navigation bar, it was taking them to their Google+ Photos page, though if you go to Picasa Web Albums otherwise, it's still there.
At the time (in July), I said, "If Google+ accomplishes nothing else for Google (though it looks like it may accomplish quite a bit), it seems to be getting people using Picasa Web Albums more, and that is a direct competitor of Facebook’s Photos. The whole Google+ vs. Facebook war might be fought battle by battle (feature by feature)."
I think this is still an extension of that. The Instant Upload feature of the Google+ Android app has certainly fueled my own use of it. It's a great feature, though on the Facebook competition front, I can't honestly say it's kept me from posting photos on Facebook at all.
When Google+ users sign into their Picasa Web Albums accounts initially, they're greeted with a message that says:
You’ve recently joined Google+. Note the following changes to Picasa Web Albums:
- Albums you’ve shared can in turn be tagged and shared by others.
- For new albums, anyone an album is shared with can see who else it is shared with.
- When you tag someone, they receive a notification and can see the photo and the related album.
It's been clear from the beginning that Picasa was a major part of Google+. Considering how big a part photos play in Facebook, I'd have to imagine that they'll continue to play a tremendous role in the success of Google+ as well.
Ben Parr at Mashable reported back in the first week of July that the Picasa and Blogger brands would be retired/rebranded in six weeks. That didn't happen, but it doesn't mean it won't. It would make perfect sense, at the very least for Picasa, to be rebranded.
“Google+ is Google itself. We’re extending it across all that we do—search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube—so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are.”
And who you are, is in fact the key. Google doesn't need you to play games on Google+ or to post updates using Google+. It just needs you to have a Google account. I already wrote that article (probably a few times).
On that note, YouTube, which Google appears to be investing a great deal in improving, is also becoming more and more tied to your true Google account. Last week, Google announced it's expanding features for users who log into YouTube with their Google accounts. Software engineer Brett Hobbs wrote:
If you are logged in to your existing Google Account, you can now choose to personalize your YouTube experience, where YouTube will suggest videos and channels based on what you’ve watched and liked in the past. You can also “like” videos, purchase or rent a latest release from YouTube.com/Movies, add videos to your own “Watch Later” queue, share videos across various platforms, connect YouTube with one of your social networks, as well as access and manage your watch history (so you don’t forget that amazing video you recently watched).
We haven't seen any signs of actual branding changes with YouTube yet, but I have a feeling YouTube will only continue to get more integrated with Google+. The integration is minimal so far. There is a bit, but there could be a lot more. As far as the brand, YouTube is such a big one, it's hard to imagine Google dropping it.
We haven't seen any changes with Blogger yet.